Five Golden Winter Beers

 

St Bernardus Christmas Ale

Every year this is our most popular Christmas beer. It's a traditional Belgian Quad that's had xmassy spices added. Expect boozy, molassesy, christmas cake-y flavours and make sure you take it out of the fridge a little before you want to drink it to get the full effect. You can buy the beer online here. Look at that cheeky little face, you know you want to.

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Brasserie de la Senne Winter Mess

Another Belgian Strong Ale, this time from relatively new Brussels brewery, Brasserie de la Senne. Expect chocolatey, spicy, fruity notes from this 8.5% winter warmer. Would pair well with a roaring fire. Buy it here.

 

Lervig Christmas Shake

A Christmas beer doesn't demand malt in everything! Is what Lervig declare on this Milkshake IPA. For those of you that don't know, that means they've put lactose sugar in to the brew, which makes the beer smoother and sweeter. They've also added passionfruit and mango aromas for a tropical (southern hemisphere?) Christmas taste!

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Tiny Rebel You Snows It

Double whammy here as not only is this a Christmas beer, but it's also a collaboration with everybody's favourite Welsh comedy rap group, Goldie Lookin Chain. It's an extra pale ale, so super refreshing, easy-drinking and a little bitter. Watch a video of the collaboration with song here and buy it here.

 

Anspach & Hobday Pfeffernusse Saison

Let's clear up what exactly Pfeffernusse are: they are tiny spiced cookies eaten in Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands. So as you can imagine, this beer is brimming with biscuity spiced and ginger notes. That along with the wax seal and Santa on the label make this a wonderfully festive beer.

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Q&A with Charles from Burnt Mill Brewery

Burnt Mill are one of new favourite breweries - they've just started canning and we want you guys to know all about them! We had a chat with Charles O'Reilly about founding the brewery and what their plans are for the future.

 
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When did you have your beer epiphany?
I don't think I can single out one event, it was more of a gradual shift in taste. From Red Stripe to Adnams and then that led into Sierra Nevada and then I just searched out loads of world beers. After a while I found out about Kernel and then spent a lot of Saturday afternoons there. Spending time there and at Brew By Numbers sort of convinced me to work in the industry. 

What was the first beer you brewed and what was it like? 
It was a Citra DIPA which was meant to be an extract version of The Kernel Double Citra. I remember it turning out much better than we expected, but we didn't use a hydrometer so we had no idea what strength it was! After a couple of extract batches I started doing brew in a bag and those were pretty varied!

What excites you about making beer?
A week in the brewery is a mix of science, engineering, physical and sensory work so being able to do that variety of things in one job is really satisfying. Obviously hearing people order our beer is always cool, because you know everything that went into making that batch and what you're going to change the next time.
 
 

 
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You've got great artwork on your cans - what were your influences?
That could be a long list, there's a lot of breweries whose artwork is great. But most of all I like design that is reflective of the brewery and it's character. It's been very cool to work with Josh [Smith] over the last year, he's taken our original ideas and gone way beyond our expectations. 

What drew you to Suffolk for a brewery location?
The space we have and the ability to brew with grains from the farm was a big part of it, we are next door to our maltsters (Muntons) also. So having that kind of expertise just over the road is great. Also being out here means we can have dogs so that was most likely the biggest reason! 

Are there any collaborations you are looking to do?
Yes, been a long time coming but we decided to wait until we'd got to know our kit and beers a bit better. We've now got a couple planned with friends but you'll have to wait a few weeks to find out. 

What is your favourite Burnt Mill beer?
I'll generally go for Green Path. (Ed: Phill agrees, Steph prefers Eastview)

What is your favourite non-Burnt Mill beer?
There's quite a few breweries whose beers I will buy on sight but I don't think I've a single favourite beer. That said I could probably live on Burning Sky Arise and 500ml bottles of Kernel Export India Porter. 

What would you be doing if you didn't start Burnt Mill?
I'd wanted to train as a carpenter around the same time that I started working in beer so either that or I'd be pretty happy working in production for another brewery. 
 

 
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The cans are currently available in our shop and we really recommend them.

If you want to meet Charles & head brewer Sophie and try some of their other beers then head to The Dukes Head Highgate on Thursday the 30th November from 6.30 pm for a Tap Take Over & Stare at the Brewer.

Caps and Taps visit the Great American Beer Festival

Steph and Phill found themselves in Denver last week, and by a complete coincidence it was the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). This beer festival is just huge - we went five years ago and we just knew we had to take advantage of this timing and go again. 

We could talk about nearly all the beers we managed to try but here's a top five instead. We had loads of great pales and fresh IPAs, but the stouts seemed to really stand out to us this time...

WeldWerks Brewing Co, Coffee Maple Achromatic. Imperial Stout
Whilst most people were going for the excellent IPAs from WeldWerks Steph was drawn to their stout. This was a massive beer, full of chocolate malts, maple syrup and a tonne of coffee which worked together well, although the coffee still managed to really shine through.

New Belgium Brewing Co, Oscar Aged In Blackberry Whiskey Barrels
This is a dark sour ale aged in blackberry-flavoured whiskey barrels. However that description doesn’t really cover how amazing this beer is. This starts off as a 100% Foeder aged beer which is then aged in the barrels from Leopold Bros Distillery in Denver. It is nuanced, delicate and balanced, and the flavours were just incredible.

Left Hand, Wake Up Dead. Imperial Stout
This is a beer we've been lucky enough to sell in the shop before, but it was still a treat to try it at the festival. This beer hits you with massive flavours of dark chocolate, raisins and liquorice. Unfortunately it's not available again in the UK for a while, but we are due some Milk Stout Nitro next week and are having a party on 1st November. Come on down!

Green Cheek Beer Company, Clichazé. IPA
We were excited to be able to try these guys again after getting some sweet tastes in at Beavertown Extravaganza last month. This New England IPA was super juicy and smooth. It was also, unsurprisingly, hazy af.

Kane Brewing, Sunday Brunch. Imperial Stout
Steph hates cinnamon and yet somehow this beer was one of her favourites of the festival. The dreaded cinnamon along with coffee and maple syrup to make a thick, rich beer that would be welcome at brunch any day of the week.

Honourable Mentions
Melvin 2x4 DIPA, Black Project Dreamland Sour, Cellar Maker Double Dobis DIPA

We managed to fail to take any photos whilst at GABF apart from this one...

 
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London Craft Beer Festival

London Craft Beer Festival is now in it's 5th year and is bigger than ever. They've moved to a  bigger site and we want these guys to have their best festival yet! Expect Verdant, Other Half, Cloudwater, Omnipollo, Modern Times.

London Craft Beer Festival
Dates: 4-6 August 2017
Location: Shoreditch Electric Light Station, Hoxton Sq., Shoreditch N1 6HD
Tickets: £42.50 include entry, all your beer, festival glass and magazine
 

Q&A with Jimmy from Unity Brewing Company

We've recently started stocking Southampton-based Unity Brewing Co, so to introduce you to this new brewery, we've asked the founder and head brewer Jimmy a few questions...

How did you become a brewer? 

I used to work in wine sales and retail, but always had a big interest in beer after my Dad introduced me to Belgian beer from producers like De Dolle, Struise and De Ranke, and big American IPA's like Pliny the Elder and Great Divide Hercules. I was discovering you could get all the complexity and flavour experiences of really expensive wine but without the bullshit and for a hell of a lot less money. This got me into homebrewing and I finally made the jump, getting a job as the sales and marketing manager at a brewery in London. I was pretty hands on there and and learned a lot from the brewers, finding that I got a lot more out of making it than selling it. By then I was so far down the rabbit whole that I knew I wouldn't do anything else. 6 years later and having worked at 5 other breweries, here I am running my own. 

What was the first beer you brewed and what was it like?

The first beer I ever homebrewed was a Belgian Blonde and it came out surprisingly good! Unfortunately not all my homebrews came out quite as well. The first commercial beer I ever brewed was a Rye Saison that the brewery I was doing sales for let me brew for my wedding. It came out much stronger that we expected (not accounting for Saison yeasts classic high attenuation) so our guests were pretty boozed but it tasted awesome. A theme of what I like to brew definitely developed pretty early on. 

Jimmy with Betty, "the brains of the operation"

Jimmy with Betty, "the brains of the operation"

What excites you about making beer?

Taking a jumble of raw ingredients and turning them into something so much greater than their individual parts is magic. The subtleties of how every little thing in the process affects the final outcome is fascinating and getting to see people enjoy something you put a huge amount of love and effort into never gets old either. 

Are there any collaborations you'd like to do or have in the works?

We're brewing with Vibrant Forest next Monday. They are good friends of ours and we've been talking about it for ages, so we're brewing a Coffee Blonde. We're also really excited to be a part of Collabageddon this year, set up by Elusive Brewing. It is 7 breweries brewing 8 beers, launched in 16 bars through the UK. We're matched up with Odyssey and Affinity, so look out for collabs with them late this year. 

Unity Beers

What is your favourite Unity beer?

That's like asking a parent who their favourite child is. So er, yes there is always a favourite! For me it has to be Congregate, our Belgian pale. It shows off all the ingredients really nicely, it's not big and really expressive, it's just light, clean and hoppy in a bitter, noble herbal and lemony way. I could drink it all day. The bottled versions of our seasonal saisons are really satisfying as well, I've got a real love for Brettanomyces and it develops really nicely when bottle conditioning with it. 

What is your favourite non-Unity beer?

It's probably going to be Orval (at a year old to be precise, when the brett has really taken hold but the hops haven't totally dropped out yet), though I could drink Taras Boulba from Brasserie De La Senne all day every day. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t a brewer?

I started a record label when I was in my early 20's and used to play in a lot of bands, maybe I'd be doing something in the music industry. Either that or running a craft beer shop which was actually the dream before I became a brewer.

Thanks to Jimmy for taking the time to answer these questions. We've really been enjoying the beers, so come down and try some yourselves! We currently have Quorum (brune), Coalescence (saison), Conflux (pale) and Congregate (Jimmy's fave!) in stock.